To the Victor: Go to CCAD

by Brigitte Rox, CCAD Public Affairs

The workforce celebrated CCAD's 56th birthday on March 10th with a cake-cutting ceremony to give everyone a chance to celebrate.

Two partially assembled UH-60V prototypes wait in the UH-60 structural assembly phase of production at Corpus Christi Army Depot for the technical data being developed in Huntsville, Alabama. This tech data must be programmed into the Victor model kit packages before they can convert the aircraft to the Victor model.. Photo by Kiana Allen (RELEASED)

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (April 21, 2017) -- With the first prototype built and flown this past January, the U.S. Army is moving ahead with its plan to modernize its current fleet of UH-60 helicopters to the new Victor model Black Hawk.

The Army plans to convert 760 UH-60 Lima models to the latest Victor configuration, so it has called on the helicopter maintenance team at the Corpus Christi Army Depot to get the job done.

Now CCAD is gearing up to welcome the new Black Hawk program where they will modernize, enhance and extend the life of the fleet.

"This is going to be a big undertaking," said the depot commander, Col. Allan H. Lanceta.

"We're going to get brand new aircraft out to the warfighter. It's a new capability with glass cockpits and new modifications. It will be the most modern UH-60 available once we get it back out there to the warfighter," Lanceta said. "And they will love this aircraft."

The Victor's digitized cockpit mimics that of its sibling, the Mike model, which was the first UH-60 to ditch analog components in favor of the modernized cockpit, said Lt. Col. Andy Duus, the product manager for the UH-60V at the Program Executive Office for Aviation at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. These modifications improve the overall mission capabilities and performance for Army aviators.

While the UH-60V program builds force capacity and capabilities to counter emerging threats, it is a money saver during a time when Army funding is threatened by its eighth year of disruptive continuing resolutions.

This month, Chief Secretary of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley was on Capitol Hill urging the House the Armed Services Committee to pass a Defense Appropriations Bill to finally enable Army readiness.

CCAD is doing its part to restore readiness levels, helping the Army save millions by updating Lima model Black Hawks to the Victor model, rather than purchasing new Mike model aircraft.

The prototype is now with Team Redstone where a standard procedure for fitting the Victor kit is being developed, but it won't be long before it reaches CCAD for full production.

Contractor Redstone Defense Systems at the Army's Aviation and Missile Research and Development Center Prototype Integration Facility already sent two of these Victor build kits to CCAD for Black Hawk artisans to rebuild.

This fall, the aircraft will go through the depot's established UH-60L-to-L recap program for modification to the UH-60V, said Cesar Gracia, depot program manager for UH-60 Lima and Victor recap. The aircraft will be fully outfitted toward the beginning of 2018.

The new UH-60V helicopter program will eventually replace the depot's current UH-60L program, which presently dominates the UH-60 recapitalization production lines at the Army's largest organic industrial base for helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul.

"These two aircraft will validate manufacturing processes and procedures," Gracia said.

"So we have to build efficiencies at CCAD now -- today -- so that we are prepared to do the Victor for the Army in the future."

Lanceta engaged his new team on a plan to improve CCAD's current UH-60 recapitalization production process as soon as he took command last July.

The production line overhaul was replaced with a gated system based on the "theory of constraints," the commander said. In simplified terms, it's a management theory focusing on eliminating bottlenecks.

"It ensures we plan accordingly so that we have all the materiel that we need for the aircraft to float through the (production) process seamlessly.

"With the way CCAD is progressing right now, CCAD will be better and better every year," he said. The team already knocked off 100 days on the first L-Model aircraft that went through the completely revised UH-60 recap program.

"We're making sure we're prepared with our processes so our Victor model can shoot out the door when they come in."

"The whole reason we're doing these efficiencies at the depot is to prepare us for the Victor model because we're going to owe a lot of aircraft back to the Army per year."

The UH-60 recap line is the bread and butter of the depot, as most of its production crew specializes in updating this high-demand fleet to deliver sustainable readiness and meet the Army's evolving operational demands.

CCAD has shown that it can deliver modernized helicopters when demands surge. In the height of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the depot team worked around the clock to convert high volumes of Alpha model Black Hawks to Limas on schedule and within budget.

Next year, the depot plans to produce 10 Victors as a test bed, and then increase that number to hit the Army's production target over the next 15 years, Lanceta said.

"If we get all 760 aircraft, that's stability for CCAD for the next 15 years," Lanceta said in April.

"We'll still continue the aircraft programs coming in," he said. "There's still going to be engines, components and everything else, but that's 15 years of work that's guaranteed for the Army."

The commander expects CCAD to absorb the UH-60 Mike workload within the same timeframe of the Victor production, making the overall UH-60 program all the more critical to perfect.

CCAD can do the work because we're getting more efficient every single day, the commander said.

"We are prepared," Lanceta said. "That's really the bottom line."

PHOTOS IN THIS STORY

"Recap is all about sending reliable helicopters back to the warfighter as fast as we can," said Black Hawk Recapitalization Structures Branch Chief and V model supervisor, Nakia Monge-Vargas. CCAD has two of the U.S. Army's five UH-60V prototypes.. Photo by Kiana Allen (RELEASED)

With the first prototype built and flown this past January, the U.S. Army is moving ahead with its plan to convert 760 UH-60 Black Hawk Lima models to the latest Victor configuration by calling on the helicopter maintenance team at the Corpus Christi Army Depot to get the job done. Photo by Kiana Allen (RELEASED)

As the U.S. Army's first and largest rotary wing depot-level maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, Corpus Christi Army Depot has a critical role to keep Army helicopters flying for at least the next half century.  Photo by Ervey Martinez (RELEASED)